Cakes and Bakes, Delicious Desserts, GBBO - Season 13

GBBO Season 13 – Week 1 Technical: Red Velvet Cake

The Great British Bake Off is one my favorite shows, inspiring new bakes, new flavors, and new techniques! Join me on my journey to bake through all the Season 13 Challenges.

Since replicating Season 8 of the Great British Bake Off wasn’t enough, I decided to try my hand at a different season! This time, I am working on season 13 which is the most recent season! This season had some great bake ideas as well as some not-so-great ones (but we’ll get there when we get there).

So, I figured, let’s do this all again! One of the big challenges I wanted to attempt this time around was coming up with original ideas for the signature and showstopper challenges instead of doing a recreation. On your mark… Get set… Bake!

We are still in week one, so it’s still cake week. But this time, there is a set recipe for the technical: Paul Hollywood’s Red Velvet Cake! And nothing says delicious quite like a six layered cake absolutely covered in cream cheese-based frosting!

This cake is a different from the cake recipes I would normally do. I am not usually one to put vinegar into my cake to kick off that baking soda reaction. As per most technicals I try to recreate, I have made some adjustments to the quantities and ingredients to fit more in the US style of measurements.

Check out the Season 13 Great British Bake Off Page to see other bakes from this series or the Make section for more recipes! Leave a comment below and let me know what you think and how the recipe works for you!


There were two major ingredients that I changed from Pauls’ recipe: golden caster sugar and double cream. I substituted the golden caster sugar for granulated sugar and the double cream for heavy whipping cream. I think these ingredients were the closest approximations I could find from my local grocery stores.

The more interesting ingredients are red food dye (clearly needed to make the cake red), vinegar, self-raising flour, and mascarpone. These were ingredients that I had to remind myself to buy as they are not something I typically have just lying around the pantry. 


The Sponge

The first step for this recipe is making the sponge for the red velvet cake. I mean, what is a cake without a sponge? That sounds like just a bowl of frosting. Anyway, I ended up using one large mixing bowl and several small bowls to complete this recipe.

In the large bowl, I creamed together some unsalted butter and sugar for about five minutes. Paul was specific about the amount of time needed to cream these ingredients together. And five minutes was the dedicated time.

After the ingredients were creamed together, I added in the pre-beaten eggs. I did this one approximate egg at a time to get a more consistent mix. Why beat the eggs before adding them in? I think it has something to do with the consistency of the mix but I’m not completely sure. Something to investigate (or let me know in the comments below if you know why!)

In a small bowl, I combined the cocoa powder, vanilla extract, red food coloring, and hot water. I whisked this together thoroughly before adding it into the main mixture. I mix was completely liquid before I let it go anywhere else.

In a different small bowl, I combined the buttermilk and salt. And then I alternated between adding the buttermilk and flour into the main bowl. I like doing this in at least three batches and making sure the main mixture is fully mixed before adding any more. This method has really helped in the consistency of the cakes.

In the last small bowl, I added white vinegar and baking soda. This was a very interested step and something that also confused me a bit. The baking soda immediately started to react with the vinegar, sizzling and popping as they mixed.

I made sure the mix was fully combined before adding it into the main mixture. But I also felt it wasn’t as sizzling and popping by the time I got it into the main bowl. Granted, I could have been quicker, but I still feel a large portion of reaction occurred in that small bowl.

Normally I would think you want the reaction to occur in the oven, not in the bowl. A Baking soda reaction normally is giving off air and bubbles which will push the baking to rise. But I felt that there was a lot of reaction happening outside of the oven. Maybe I’m wrong but it definitely felt… weird.

Now that the mixture is all together, it was time to bake. I divided the batter into three cake tins and let them cook in the oven for about twenty-five minutes. When they came out of the oven, I let them cool in the pan for a few minutes for turning them out and letting them cool completed. We want to assemble with a fully cooled cake!


This was one of the easiest icings I have ever made. Step One – take ingredients and throw them into a bowl. Step Two – mix them. That’s it. A delicious icing in two steps with really no thinking required.

The only interesting thing that this icing requires is that it should be chilled until you’re ready to use it. Paul’s recipe also calls for diving the icing in two; one for the inside layer of the red velvet cake and the other for the outside of the cake.


With the cakes cools and the icing made, it is now time to assemble this red velvet cake! I leveled off the tops of each cake and then cut each cake in half to give me 6 layers of cake. I added icing between each layer, and I was aiming to have the icing layer be equivalent in size to the cake layer.

After each layer was set, it was time to add icing all around the outside of the cake. I did this in one step which was foolish (but ‘ll get more into that inn the lessons section). Putting the remaining icing into a piping bag, I piped out 8 rosettes on the top of the cake.

Or, more accurately, I piped out seven rosettes and panicked because there wasn’t enough room. So, then I just put the eighth one in the middle. Measuring in baking is not my strong suite. But we’ll get there one day.

And then the cake is ready to enjoy!!


This cake came out well, but it does not have the polish that I often want to accomplish but almost never do. Putting looks aside, the taste was absolutely divine! The cake did rise well but I do wonder if I could get a better rise. This cake is already a monstrosity even without that much rise. And the cream cheese icing was irresistible.


What’s a crumb coat and why haven’t I been using it?

A crumb coat is the first layer of icing that is meant to trap all of the crumbs and prevent them from being seen in the final cake. This means that two layers of icing are normally done to get that smooth look.

Why haven’t I been using this method before? I honestly don’t know. I don’t think I registered exactly what a crumb coat was until this time around… I’m a slow learner.


Red Velvet Cake

This is a deliciously rich, six-layer chocolate (red velvet) cake with a decadent cream cheese icing!
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 31 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 31 minutes


Red Velvet Sponge

  • 1 ¼ Cup Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 3 Eggs beaten
  • 4 Tablespoon Cocoa Powder
  • 2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Teaspoon Red Food Coloring
  • 6 Tablespoon Hot Water
  • 1 ⅓ Cup Buttermilk
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 ¼ Cup Self-Raising Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon White Vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 1 ½ Cup Cream Cheese full-fat
  • 1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 ½ Cup Powdered Sugar
  • ¾ Cup Mascarpone
  • A Pinch of Salt


Red Velvet Sponge

  • Preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit. Prep three cake pans.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter at sugar for approximately five minutes
  • Add in the eggs, a little at a time.
  • In a small bowl, mix cocoa powder, vanilla extract, food coloring, and hot water until combine. Add into the large mixing bowl.
  • In a small bowl, combine buttermilk and salt. Alternate adding the buttermilk mixture and the flour to the large mixing bowl.
  • In a small bowl, mix the vinegar and baking soda. Add the to large mixing bowl and mix until smooth.
  • Quickly divide the cake batter into three pre-prepared baking pans and bake for 20-25 minutes or until fully cooked. Let cool for 5 minutes before turning out. Then let cool completely.

Cream Cheese Icing

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, heavy whipping cream, vanilla extract, powdered sugar, mascarpone, and salt until light and fluffy.
  • Divide between two bowls and chill until needed.


  • Cut the three cakes into 6 layers (cut each in half). Cut away excess on the top of the cakes to keep each cake flat. Keep off-cutting and set them aside for later
  • Place each cake with icing between each layer. One bowl should be enough for the 5 layers of frosting between the cakes.
  • Using the second bowl of icing, cover the exterior of the cake and pipe 8 rosettes on the top.
  • Crumble the off-cuttings and gently press them against the bottom third of the cake.
  • Enjoy!!

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